Elizabeth Stower, Rep. Ron Kinds new legislative assistant, planned to take the pre-med route in college but changed her mind after one political science class.
Stower would need that inspiration and strength when, six weeks after the passing of her mother, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Initially, fear of the diagnosis caused her to reject educating herself about the disease.
“It’s an interesting route because when you’re first diagnosed, at least for me, I just wanted my doctor to tell me what to do. I was young and scared and very late stage-three diagnosis.”
The lack of curiosity didn’t last. As time passed, Stower familiarized herself with the disease, researching the drugs used to combat it.
“I spent a lot more time looking at guidelines put out by the [Food and Drug Administration], looking at new drugs,” she said.
She still takes Tamoxifen daily. The strains of that medication are far less taxing than the chemotherapy and radiation she underwent shortly after being diagnosed. (She hopes to be medication-free by January 2014.)
In her own struggle, Stower said, she has emulated her mother, embracing a mindset rooted in toughness and strength rather than sorrow.
“I think she provided a guide for me,” she said. “The disease never defined who I was. And it still doesn’t. I’m never one to use my past illness as a crutch. If anything, it’s pushed me to work harder.”
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Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.